Anderson/Madison County Visitors Blog
It is iconic but now sits empty. It has received national acclaim but now is in disrepair. What to do with it creates passionate debate throughout Anderson.
You probably already know what I am talking about.
The Anderson Wigwam, home for decades to the Anderson Indians and many iconic moments of Hoosier Hysteria, has a tenuous future, at best. It has been unused since 2011. The Anderson Community School Corporation—understandably and rightfully—wants to get the big empty building and its $15,000 monthly maintenance bill off of its ledger.
Judgment day for the Wigwam is drawing near, and it may be that the venerable complex falls prey to a wrecking ball. That would be a shame. While I am generally supportive of removing old, abandoned buildings, the Wigwam is different. It is a community identifier.
But at the same time, even though it is a community identifier and the holder of great memories from days gone by, it still has to serve a purpose. It makes no sense to incur the monthly expense just to keep an empty, locked building standing.
Therein lies the debate. Some want the building saved no matter what. They see it as a great asset, and once it is gone, it is gone. Others see it as a symbol of misguided importance on high school basketball and of trying to hold on to the past and feel that unless it can be used for something viable, it is time to move on.
But a plan has emerged that I think can satisfy both interests. Wigwam Sports and Entertainment (WSE), led by Terry Thimlar and Mark Rowe, has stepped forward as a potential buyer of the Wigwam. I was part of a blue ribbon panel put together to meet with Thimlar and Rowe and to hear about their plan. I came away from the meeting encouraged.
Thimlar’s background is in sports and sports management. He played basketball at Indiana State University and was later an assistant coach at ISU when they played in the NCAA title game in 1979. He also was an assistant coach at the University of Florida, and has been a head basketball coach at the high school level, including at Muncie Central. He served as general manager of the Florida Flame in the D-League. Rowe is the president of MD Rowe Construction in Indianapolis and has led numerous large construction projects. Their talents seem to fit the needs of the project.
WSE would renovate the Wigwam complex in an incremental approach, similar to how the Paramount Theatre was renovated in Anderson. WSE’s plans include rehabbing the arena portion of the complex first so that revenues can be generated through sporting events and camps, as well as concerts and entertainment. Having the Wigwam be home to an NBA D-League team might also be a possibility.
The school system has placed a March 1 deadline for a conclusion to the Wigwam saga. WSE and the school system have agreed to maintain an open dialogue to see if an agreement can be reached. Here’s hoping for a successful resolution.
News, notes, and thoughts—Prayers and thoughts go out to Chris Williams, his wife Kim, and their daughters as Chris recovers from a fall at their home in mid December. Chris is the director of university communications and community relations at Anderson University and is one of the most genuine, good guys around. I look forward to seeing him around town as soon as possible…It was great to hear of the Colts announcement that they would be returning to Anderson University for training camp this summer. The announcement came sooner than it has the past few years which will allow everyone a great opportunity to prepare and advertise camp. The thought of watching the Colts at A.U. on a hot summer day is quite appealing right now! But, we still have a season to conclude this year, and all Colts fans in Madison County are hoping it doesn’t end until they hoist the Lombardi Trophy…My wife, Jessica, and I love to go to the movie theater. This year we saw over 30 movies together, many at the Mounds Mall cinema. Of the movies I saw in a theater in 2013, my top five, in order were: 1. Silver Linings Playbook, 2. Gravity, 3. Nebraska, 4. The Way, Way Back, and 5. Zero Dark 30. My five least favorites of the year were: 1. After Earth (may be the worst movie I have ever seen), 2. A Good Day to Die Hard, 3. Don Jon, 4. Francis Ha (I liked Francis Ha the character way more than I liked Francis Ha the movie), and 5. Anchorman 2. What were your favorites and least favorites in 2013?
--Tom Bannon is executive director of the Anderson/Madison County Visitors Bureau